Ask the Expert

Local Pros Weigh In on Technology, Bridesmaid Etiquette, and More

Local pros weigh in on technology-free ceremonies, hurricane-proofing your honeymoon, bridesmaid etiquette, and more commonly asked wedding questions.

If someone asks you to be a bridesmaid, do you have to reciprocate when it’s your turn to be a bride?
Most girls cherish the opportunity to be a bridesmaid in a dear friend or relative’s wedding. Out of all her loved ones, she thoughtfully selected you to stand beside her on this special day. Nevertheless, no rule exists that demands quid pro quo. I advise you to choose women you’re close with and who have impacted your life, be it a childhood confidante, college roommate, or sister. Also, consider creating a special role for those who won’t be bridesmaids. In the south, many ladies have what is called a house party—essentially another bridal party­—or perhaps a friend could perform a reading during the ceremony.

—Bren Underwood from

AsktheExpert2I’m ready to find my dream dress. What should I know before I start trying on?
1. Give yourself enough lead time for purchasing a dress—about seven to eight months before the wedding. At most bridal boutiques, gowns take about three to five months to get in. You’ll most likely need alterations, which can take up to eight weeks. And bridal portraits are normally scheduled about a month prior to the big day.
2. Find your gown before you select your bridesmaid dresses and accessories so you can choose items that work around your dress. However, I’ve worked with brides who have had heirloom veils they wanted to wear, and we try to find a gown around this special item.
3. It’s nice when brides have an idea of what they would like, but I have had a lot who end up buying a gown they didn’t think they’d wear, so it’s important to keep an open mind.
4. Bring those who matter most to the appointment. When a bride brings her whole bridal party, it means many different opinions, and the bride can get overwhelmed.
5. Most appointments at boutiques are time limited, so remember that you can’t try on every gown in one visit. I think a good maximum number of gowns to try on in a single appointment is 10.

—Megan Galloway from De Ma Fille bridal boutique

My fiancé and I aren’t great in front of the camera. Do you have any tips for becoming comfortable with the photographer for our wedding-day pictures?
Find a photographer that you like, because feeling like your photographer is a friend will put you at ease. Also, do an engagement session so you can see how your photographer works, and your photographer can see how your chemistry as a couple photographs. He or she will figure out what works and what doesn’t, what makes you laugh, what angles are flattering, etc. A great photographer will pick up on these little, but very important, details and remember them for the wedding day. I also recommend looking at photos you like to see if there is a pattern. Maybe the ones you like are all taken from a certain side/angle, etc. The more information you can give your photographer on what you like and don’t like will help he or she know what to avoid doing on your wedding day.

—Andrea Polito from Andrea Polito Photography

AsktheExpert3We have some very close family members who live overseas and can’t travel for our upcoming wedding. Are there any digital avenues for sharing the ceremony and reception with them?
One way to share your wedding with those who can’t make it to the ceremony is through a live web stream. This allows absent viewers to get in on the action in a way that is instantaneous and unobtrusive. Our team is on-site during the wedding and will set up a stationary camera that films the ceremony as it happens. Viewers will instantly have a front-row seat via a password-protected website that is unique to each bride. Prior to the ceremony, brides can share their exclusive live-web-stream link with friends and family across the world. Alternately, social-media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are great ways to share your finished wedding film with others after the fact.

—Derek Hubbard from Hakim Sons Films

My groom and I have a large number of out-of-town guests invited to our wedding. Do we have to invite all of them to the rehearsal dinner? How do we make sure they are comfortable and entertained for the weekend?
The rehearsal-dinner invite list should include all of the guests who are taking part in the wedding ceremony, as well as the bride and groom’s immediate family and their spouses. If budget allows, other family members and out-of-town guests can also be considered. While the bride and groom aren’t responsible for keeping guests busy the entire time they are in town, it’s a nice idea to supply the guests with some ideas for restaurants and things to do. A list and map of some of the bride and groom’s favorite sites, pubs, clubs, and restaurants is a fun way to make your guests feel connected even if they aren’t with you. This information can be shared on a wedding website or included in a welcome bag.

—Julie Eastman from Extraordinary Events & Design

I’d like to wear my hair down for the wedding, but I’m afraid that the style won’t hold for the entire night. How can I make sure my hair is picture perfect?
Begin by prepping clean, damp hair with a mousse—my favorite is the Moroccan Oil Volume Mousse. Blow-dry this in and, for added volume at the crown, use Moroccan Oil’s root-boost foam spray. Once the hair is completely dry, take small sections to curl. The trick: Use about a half-size smaller curling iron than the desired curl size you are going for. My go-to is a one-inch Hot Tools curling iron, which I wrap the hair around up to the root. Use a flexible-hold hairspray for each section. Once finished, let the curls cool and set. About an hour before the ceremony, use a wide-tooth comb to brush through and separate the curls. If the curls are still a little tight, use a little more tension when brushing through. Finish off the look with some shine spray and strong-hold hairspray.

—Adrienne Pedigo from The Hair Bar

What is the difference between a wedding planner and an event designer? How do I know which kind I need to hire?
The terms “designer” and “planner” get thrown around a lot in the wedding industry. To determine the difference, you must look at the types of services that are being offered. Is the person offering to create an agenda, floor plan, or budget? That’s a planner. If they are coming up with an inspiration board of pictures, drawing up designs for your reception, or helping you pick out the perfect linens, they are a designer. Some planners offer both services, so they might use both titles. So how do you know which type you should hire? Well, it comes right back to what kind of service you need. If you feel overwhelmed with the idea of coming up with a theme for your wedding, you need a designer. If you are looking for someone to guide you through the decisions that need to be made and help you find your perfect team of vendors, you’re looking for a planner. Or maybe you need both! Look at what they’re offering so you’re clear on what you’re getting.

—Wendy Kidd from Each & Every Detail

I would love to come up with a few creative and out-of-the-box ideas for my bridal portrait. What are some ways to brainstorm for the photo session?
Today’s bride definitely has the license to be quirky and fun with her bridal portrait. Work with your photographer to find creative locations and poses that showcase your personality and interests. If you love to read, find an old library or historic schoolhouse for your shoot. If you enjoy running, get a few shots where your brightly colored sneakers peek out from beneath your dress. Just make sure whatever theme you decide upon reflects your personal style and individuality.

—Kelly Alexander from Kelly Alexander Photography

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